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tv   C-SPAN Weekend  CSPAN  July 4, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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where. in the period of 1997 to the current time, there were complaints from employees this started to surface in the 200 9d directly to us. this was a 1998 review of the 1997 assessment done by the military district of washington inspector general. they want back in and covered the areas of the 1996-1997 time frame there was some action. apparently not the right answer. are there remains?
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have we identified remains? what are we doing to honor the deceased. we have found no remains. we have gone in and investigated 27 of those so far. each one of those cases, we found that the map was wrong. should we, we'll have to take a number of steps. presumably the outside tagging
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is appropriate. we with notify next kin. we have not had to deal with that as of yet. >> thank you. >> thank you both for being here today. we pressure service. i have to begin by saying that i was deeply disappointed when i read in the "washington post" that those headstones were found in a river bed on the cemetery's grounds. when i saw the photo that accompanied the article, i was particularly upset that there was a name on one of these headston headstones. that hit home.
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i am a representative from iowa. it hit me hard. this doesn't seem to be an explanation of how that headstone came be there. what happens to those headstones could you elaborate? what is the normal procedures for the headstones? >> it's been this way since is the -- 1994.
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what happens is that the headstone is ground and disposed of in an appropriate manner. >> is we don't know how this happened at this point? >> it seems that this was an accepted practice throughout all government agencies that if you encounter excesssheadstones. i can't justify that. it was an acceptable policy, i find it hard how anyone could develop that as acceptable policy but it was accepted
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policy. these headstones were used in a have rye ilt of ways as building materials. we are make every efforts 0. they are in streams and river beds. they do buildup the stream bed which affects the val oou of the stream head.
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>> two more quick points. it's been quite some time, in america, we have brought people around to being appreciative of how we see our troops. we have been making a long, slow come back on that front. i'm concern that had what we've seen happen with these headstones is a real problem that doesn't reflect well.
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i think a lot of the american people will have concerns about this. i look forward to working with both of you to the extent we can did -- we can do that. one comment on the garden reserve. these look at that report. we have 2900 iowa reserves that will be deployed to after the discussion to afghanistan. >> thank you, there's no
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justification. >> thank you. my son is one of thosement -- those men. >> the highest honors possible for our veterans. as a vet wan myself and various family members buried there. a former staff member of mine is buried at arlington. it's personal to me.
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with that said, you've addressed this but it's so important that it needs to be restated. the army inspector general reports significant contract discrepancies. can you tell us how far and what will be done. >> to the extent that they arable -- available. it is being supported by the aaa
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and the army auditing agency. those materials in the audit trail will be shared with cid as are all the ig reports to try to make determinations if there is sufficient evidence to proceed in any way against anyone in a criminal manner. as noted, from is identifiable material as to how much was spent for millions of dollars and the mur pursuit.
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if i may -- also -- i stated that we are not just stopping at arlington. there are people that will comply. we have to ache >> the administration runs many different national cemeteries. these other cemeteries have not had such problems that have been uncovered at arlington. do you see the benefit of bringing arlington under the
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veterans administration? >> i have the highest regard for the secretary. he's been enormously supportive in the efforts to try to rectify the situation. they run a substantial network of cemeteries and do a fine job as well. there are other agencies that run cemeteries as well. i think all of the agencies have their particular challenges.
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for 146 years, the army has been a major part of making this certain place special. we view it as or responsibly to kwary these soldiers to their final resting place. this will be rebuilt for those. i mentioned as a former member of this committee, it is important but bhfr but until
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something has changed, we will continue forward with our services. >> you submited two reports? >> yes. i have two separate reports. the investigation was submited on june 8th. the inspections were not submited to him. we worked together to discover.
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whistleblower was opened in october 2008. that goes directly to dod. we receive the final results late last night. >> would the gentleman from arkansas wish to inquire? >> i sent a letter several months ago. others got it last night. i asked about it and he said he hadn't had time to read it. i understand how busy we are but you are inspecting a report
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involving a whistleblower issue. why couldn't you have maedz -- made time to row view the document? >> i did row view it. >> you said you vent youred a combhome comment. is it seems you were not the committee's questions. i pressure clarification. >> thank you gentleman. mr. janes. i share the outrage you express as well as the feelings of great
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empathy for the families of our fallen soldiers who are buried at arlington national cemetery as well as their loved ones and spou spouses. this serves as more than an monument to our national heroes. i want to focus on the work force and the investigative report. speaking to the fact that an unhealthy work environment exists and has existed at
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arlington national cemetery for some time how many complaints of racial discrime ination has been made say since 1990? >> i don't have the precise number. there were complaints of racial complaints, and vulger comments.
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we does find an unhealthy work environment partly due to the unhealthy leadership. when was the ability to function in this unit?
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>> we had the ability to work together. those lanes intended it overlap. that overlap caused that unhealthy working relyingship and management at the cemetery. the use of comments, those al
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dpagss were ruled to be not founded in fact. how much such complaints were there. who or what agency was it that timly investigated those complaints. >> the attorney general coming in to do deployment survey
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>> is it still a problem out there where black folks feel like they are being treated badly and differently from other employees? are this any black folks other than the assistant supervisor at the cemetery? >> sir, there are both a mix of races at arlington but the comments and allegations were not one race. it worked both ways. comments against whites and
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blacks. there are several supervisors of both races. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. thank you for being here. i pressure service. mr. secretary, i know a challenge like this is complex and to organize something this
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large. i guess there's two things we should focus on. number one is to figure out what happened not so much to bring blame if it sounds like, in terms of the structure, that that seems to have filtered down at the base of what happened here that we are all concerned about. what has been done to restructure things? give me the one on one on what
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has been done. >> thank you. i've taken several steps and don't preclude taking others. the first was to rescind general or the 13. that was the governing structure that in my view did just about everything but govern. i redirected the lines of authority and created a clearer command structure at the top in terms of cemetery operations.
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in a work placed environment they have a clear chain of command to go and report those irregularities. everyday since this first came light, i issued the publication of the inspector he's report.
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one of the things they have holding them back and what can we do to make sure that we honor these men and women that laid down their lives for us in the future? if i'm clear the things i go to
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that is done at the highest level. all that is done below that diminishes. we want to see the challengesnd concerns made right. it will take time. this is a difficult consultation. the working it system is that record keeping is brought into the 21st century.
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we all understand this is a special place in america. i hope that your office could keep us adviced as to the progress on this. that would be very helpful. we would appreciate that. >> we'll make sure you are provided regular updates. >> ms. davis? >> thank you both.
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i appreciate your serious attention. >> the funding is appropriated separately down in the appropriations act. so it's not a d. o. d. appropriation? >> exactly. >> does that preclude the army from using funds to operate? >> yes. what legislative assistance do you need to provide a remedy. is that the issue or is it something else?
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the army is restricted from quick fixes and needs in installing the needed money. obviously committee jurisdictions come into play. it is important as noted that both the va and the d. o. d. appropriations are the same
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subcommittee. we'll come back to the plan on that. >> you spoke earlier about the stress on the budget. i wonder where this would fit into the many challenges that your budget faces as well as othe others. as i mentioned earlier, the carrying of the fallen to their final resting place is important to us.
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. are there enough people to do the job? >> my instincts say no but we are not going to operate on instincts. under my authorization, the army has begun an investigation. they will do a harsh analysis.
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the financial support has remained relatively stagnant. nothing in this report states anything than that they are doing an outstanding job. they have kept the good face of arlington to the families of these fallen heroes. >> i noticed that they are scheduling 135 to 150 funerals a week. is there a concern expressed?
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>> not anything that we have heard. they are human beings. it's natural to react in sad ways when a place you have devoted yourself is called into question. that's why it is all in and called on the first day. we went down for a taun hall
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meeting. >> i was impressed with the concern you are showing. we are fighting two wars. this would appear to be a fairly low priority in reference to the wars we are fighting. it appears you've spent a lot of time devoted to this. i thought of a biblical text.
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it says, you were right to give a tension to what is done you about left what is undone. i wanted to express my concern and make a statement to all of the servicemen and their families that this really is important. thank you for your attention, both of you. >> thank you to the gentleman. >> thank you. i know the time is limited. i really wanted to yield any
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time. if i can yield my time, i'd appreciate that. >> thank you. i know you've that to make efforts to investigate. i do believe that we owe a great amount of honor and respect to our receiptentreceiptents. in reading through the report and looking at some of the words
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used show that complaints go back almost 20 years. i don't know who was being protected during that time. clearly someone wasn't paying attention. i know you gentleman are trying to resolve that situation. the policies were obviously faili failing. there was a lack of inspection of what was really going on. when i was in the private
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industry, i have had the question -- are we involving the families? i know there will be a planning commission as such. will families be involved? will they have i voice? my intent to create the position and making that person directly reportable to me is to ensure
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that the families have direct access to the highest level. and i am making sure that the call center is opened for them to call in. we have had a discussion. we would like to move complaints to the highest level, not to the off level. as happens in every major military academy, boards of over sight are there to put an extra pair of eyes on different
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issues. it's equally important to let them know that they are not going to get lost at the third or fourth level. >> i have one another comment. after reading some of the reports of the insight going on and the length of time, i can't figure out why someone didn't do something about that then. why did it take so long to make the personnel changes we need. was the policy so protective of these employees? >> i don't think anyone nude
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authorities based on these types of actions. there is a disconnection. it still seems to me looking at it that even without clearly expressed authority, someone should have said something to someone. it did not clincur. this just rolled on. the only thing i had the option to do when i found out the
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conflict, i went in to clear out the conflict and go forward with what we found out. >> i understand you do have to leave exactly at 1:00. let's squeeze everyone in. >> i have some requests i'll submit for the record but i do want to really express how
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alarming that this could happen. i associate myself with mr. ortiz. you may remember writing those long letters. i think it is the same feeling. you remember mr. lantoa. you made the comment about the change that took place there. xi -- this refers to you. you can't undo what was done.
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i want you to know that i appreciate that. you too, general. let $move forward. it's extremely unfortunate. it maces me feel bad. it's extremely important as it was for those of us who served a command role to contact loved ones. carry through. i know you will. i want to work with you as i'm sure everybody here does. thank you. >> thank you, very much. >> we are going to do as quickly as we can. quickly. >> thaufshg. thank you.
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earlier, the oversight was discussed. i am thankful. my uncle -- my father's twin is buried. i believe we can get this right under your leadership. >> the sfeks teement this might result in different levels of maintenance and management, et cetera. we have created through the position of single authority. the primary operations will be to oversee at arlington.
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we have in any of cemeteries rating systems. it is our intention to put out command directives in terms of what we he'd as they go forward. i can't tell you gg ga clearly the form. >> thank you.
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to be quick, appreciate the efforts certainly. your efforts in getting to the bottom of this and going forward in a positive way only show respect. it is appreciated. we know you care and are going to get it right. yield back. >> thank you. as we go about restructuring, what efforts are made to preach out in include them. there is a regular way to communicate and make sure concerns are being addressed. >> family members, as they have
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expressed concerns, we are reaching back to them. some are generic. some do relate to specific laf concerns. i think their interest and concern is directed toward proper record keeping ensuring the pomp send ashg -- importance. i would say with respect to any citizen that has concerns
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>> thank you for being here. i recently got a call from a constituent whose brother was laid to rest earlier this year.
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i'm trying to get a hand will on what efforts are being made to contact those families that are impacted. >> you want to give me a call and we'll get the information. but any family member is not just welcome but please call 703-607-1899. we will get back to them.
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we are not contacting members that don't have an issue. we don't see a need to raise levels of concern at this time. where we do find an issue. thank you. i yield back. >> first of all, let me thank you so much i am grateful to you and the ranking members for this
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opportunity. >> it is icon yik. if disrespect and dishonor can tur at arlington, it can occur at any cemetery. there are reports of findings at a non-military secretary. . i look across the nation and find some real issues across the nation. specifically in response to this, i can do some legislation
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that sets forth minimum standards and guidelines. this bill is, in your words, baselines of assurances. i like your words. those guidelines and rules will be written by the federal trade commission and enforced requiring all the entities to maintain courage of the date and location and make that information availability to the consumers. by applying the laws across the nation, whether buried or
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cremated and regardless of religion, they are buried and that namlies can be assured of how their loved ones are being held. you may not be familiar, in response to my bill and markups, certain powerful organizations religious and otherwise want to call out some provisions of my bill. they would be financially burdensome. can you give me an opinion on whether or not these are sound
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positions and these should not have the same baseline given to the military family. you have asked the question that i will have to respectfully dodge. i am not in the position of legislation any longer. i would carefully consider co-sponsorship. >> by the time we are done, we will have exceeded every minimal use standard. >> i thank the secretary and general. we appreciate you being with us today. one thing we have learned, out
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of our this tragedy and problems, you are on top of it. you care. you care. we know that the investigation will be thorough, that you will do everything you can to restore confidence of this committee and the american people innthe operation of the arlington cemetery. we hope you will keep this committee informed of your progress. we look forward to hearing from you we wish you well and we thank you for caring. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> coming up, washington journal with your questions and comments. . .


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